Relax with a Massage

Duke’s employee wellness program offers chair massages starting at $18

LIVE FOR LIFE, Duke’s employee wellness program, offers chair massages starting at $18.
LIVE FOR LIFE, Duke’s employee wellness program, offers chair massages starting at $18.

On a whim, Megan Ó Connell booked a 15-minute chair massage through Duke’s employee wellness program to relieve nagging neck and shoulder discomfort.

She’s been treating herself to a massage about once each semester for the past two years.

“It’s nice to be able to zip over on a lunch break for 15 minutes and refresh for the work week,” said Ó Connell, a reproductions manager at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. “I automatically feel more relaxed and in a lighter mood. All of the stress just dissipates.”

Chair massages, which focus on high-tension areas of the neck, back shoulders, arms and hands, are available for 15 or 30-minutes between 12 and 4 p.m. on Thursdays. Massages are offered in the Cancer Center Boutique Room on all Thursdays – except the third Thursday when they are in room 14222B of the Duke Clinics Red Zone.

Payment with cash, credit card or “LIVE FOR LIFE dollars,” which is Monopoly-like money earned by participating in employee wellness programs, is accepted. Rates for a chair massage begin at $18.

Massages can also be scheduled for departments or events by contacting Nicholas Beresic, health promotion manager with LIVE FOR LIFE, by emailing him at

Stephen Lilyquist, a licensed massage and body therapist, has provided massages through LIVE FOR LIFE, Duke’s employee wellness program, for the past three years. He typically starts sessions by asking each client if there’s a specific area experiencing discomfort.

Massages are available for 15 or 30-minute appointments.“Even a massage for a short period of time can improve blood circulation and release muscle tension,” he said. “It helps get you up and moving. It also helps alleviate any emotional tension.” 

Lilyquist also works with employees on developing stretches to ease reoccurring pain. When Ó Connell senses shoulder strain, she’ll practice exercises for a few minutes.

“I credit Duke with continuing to put opportunities forth that remind all staff, faculty and students that it’s important to take breaks and reset yourself,” she said.

Debra Smith uses “LIVE FOR LIFE dollars” to pay for massages. On a recent Thursday. Smith, a staff assistant with Employee Occupational Health & Wellness, got a chair massage after tweaking her back.

“I get so tense sometimes that my body doesn’t want to relax,” she said. “After a massage, I feel so at ease and peaceful for the rest of the day.